Homage watches are one of the most polarizing topics in the watch community. They can also be pretty confusing to understand, at first.
Today we’re going to be covering a few things about homage watches such as the difference between a homage watch and a replica watch. Is a homage a fake watch? And most importantly, once you know what a homage watch is, should you buy one?
So… What is a homage watch?
Homage Watch Definition
A homage watch is a watch that takes design inspiration from and pays homage to an already existing watch.
In the world of watches, this term ‘homage’ is thrown around pretty loosely.
Typically, in forms of media such as art and music, paying homage to something means to draw inspiration from, and reflect that inspiration in a unique and creative piece.
In the world of watches, the term is much broader. For example, a homage watch can take a few design elements from a single or multiple already existing watches, and implement those design elements into a completely new watch. For example, the Dan Henry 1964 Gran Turismo, a watch that I personally own and love. Whether or not this was Dan Henry’s initial intention, I can’t say, but the watch does seem to be inspired by a few specific vintage Tag Huer Carrera and Omega Seamaster vintage chronographs from the 60’s.
Now, I’m not saying a company should completely copy another watch to design their ‘homage’ watch. I think it’s fine for watches to take inspiration from another watch, but shouldn’t directly copy it. Of course, this is part of why homage watches are such a hot-button issue in the watch community. Not everybody agrees that these watches should exist.
Homage vs. Replica Watches – What’s the Difference?
As stated before, a homage watch is a watch that uses one or more design elements of an already existing watch to create a new product. But what happens when a watch takes just about all of the major design elements from another watch but has an original logo on the dial?
The difference between a homage and replica watch, however, is that a replica watch will still use the original watch’s branding and logo, and essentially try to appear as the real thing.
Replica watches are counterfeit products that try to frame themselves as the real watch they are imitating and completely illegal. I do not at all support the buying or wearing of them.
An homage watch, on the other hand, might have the same design as an already existing watch, but they will always change their logo, so as not to try and present itself as “the real thing”.
Let’s take, for example the Steinhart Ocean 39. This is a clear and blatant homage to the Rolex Submariner. The key design elements are more or less carried over. The watch does change a few design elements from the Rolex Submariner, like coming in at 39mm in diameter, which Rolex has never done before, as well as a glossy ceramic bezel without engraved markings. But the watch is branded as a Steinhart watch. It’s not trying to deceive the buyer into thinking it’s a Rolex, therefore, it is not a replica. It is just an homage.
Of course, many people still do not like the idea of homage watches that copy too many elements of a watch, regardless of if they are a replica or not. It can feel a bit of an easy way out to design a watch that another company invested their money and time into designing.
Here are a few reasons why some people are against homage watches in general:
The Cons of Homage Watches
- Unoriginal design
- Part of the fascination of watch collecting for some is the aspiration for something new and creative. However, very few watches are completely original these days. Many, even high-end luxury watches, have often derived some inspiration from other watches.
- Having to explain that your watch is not the watch it looks like.
- Since homage watches often copy or use design elements from some of the most popular and well-known watches of all time, they can sometimes be confused for the watch they are homaging, from afar.
- If someone recognizes the Rolex Submariner homage you are wearing and compliments you on your “Rolex Submariner” you then have to go on explaining how, no, you’re not wearing the Rolex Submariner… Even though it looks exactly like a Rolex Submariner. And you’d have to explain how your watch is from another brand that makes a watch that is very inspired by the Rolex Submariner. This doesn’t bother some people, but it might be a huge downside to some.
- Depending on the movement used, a homage watch may be difficult to service and repair. Some homage watches use cheap movements to keep costs down, and sometimes cheap and obscure movements might be unusual to watchmakers and may be difficult for them to find replacement parts. Keep in mind that some homage watches like the Invicta Pro Diver (Amazon link) use a solid and reliable movement, in this case an unbranded Seiko movement – the NH35A.
- Homages won’t always scratch the itch.
- Depending on your watch collecting goals, you may be using the homage to fill the role of a “grail” watch, but it won’t always give you nearly the same effect of the watch it is paying homage to.
- Sometimes saving for the big piece is much more satisfying.
- There is something to negatively be said about the instant gratification of buying a cheap homage watch instead of saving up for the more expensive version of the watch you really want. Sometimes working hard and saving your money for that grail piece you really want can make the piece all the more special to you, and sometimes just giving in to the temptation to buy the cheap homage detracts from that experience. I understand that budgets are subjective, and purchasing a luxury watch may not be financially feasible for some, so I do not blame you if you choose an homage watch for this reason.
Despite all of that, there are certainly reasons why homage watches are appreciated by some in the watch community. For example:
The Pros of Homage Watches
- Some homages do a great job of taking inspiration from another watch while adding a unique flair and design elements to it. A perfect example of this is the Squale 1521 (link Amazon). While the lineage of its design can loosely be traced back to the Rolex Submariner (as can be said for just about every other dive watch on the market), the very distinct design cues, such as the coin edge bezel, unique dial, geometric all-polished case, and the white handset are enough to massively set it apart from its inspirations.
- A good way to taste a classic design on a budget.
- A good way to taste many different designs.
- They’re typically well-designed and good looking since they often imitate already popular and good-looking designs
- Save money. Obviously, not everybody, including myself, can afford to spend large sums of cash on a collection of many different luxury watches. The homage can sometimes scratch the itch for the watch it is paying homage to.
Should You Buy an Homage Watch?
Overall, whether or not you will want to buy a homage watch will depend on a few things.
- Are you comfortable with owning a watch that is partly or largely based on the design of another?
- If you want the look of a particular luxury watch, but can’t afford it. Great way to
- If you’re looking to try the look of a certain luxury watch before spending a large sum of money on “the real thing”.
Regardless, anyone who is considering buying an homage watch should certainly try to research their potential homage watch closely to at least understand the watch/watches that the watch is homaging. You should also come to understanding This will give you a better understanding and appreciation of both timepieces.
Affordable Homage Watch Brands
So, now that you’ve decided you’re okay with buying a homage watch, here are a few brands that are well known for their homage watches. Keep in mind that any watch brand, even a well known and respected brand can produce an homage watch.
Dan Henry watches is a micro brand that typically produces chronograph watches from across the decades that look and feel vintage. They are often homages based on a specific decade or year.
Their Dan Henry 1964 Gran Turismo is one of my favorite chronographs I own, and is based on vintage racing chronographs from the 60’s.
The build quality of the watch is great, and it even includes a substantial beads of rice bracelet that is true to its era.
Frederique Constant (link to Amazon) is on the higher-priced end of “affordable” and definitely offers many original pieces as well as homages.
Their watches typically exude a classy and luxurious feel, akin to the likes of Patek Phillipe, although they lack a luxury price tag.
They’re very appealing watches for any collector who is looking to add a bit of a tasteful dress watch to their collection at a fraction of the cost of high end luxury brands like Patek.
Steinhart is a brand that makes many swiss homages of a bunch of different popular luxury watches, like their Ocean One and Ocean 39 (read my full review) which are homages of the popular Rolex Submariner.
While Rolex Submariner homages are a dime a dozen, what Steinhart does differently than other brands is their overall build quality and price to value ratio.
With features like sapphire crystals, swiss ETA2824 movements, ceramic bezels, and etc. the watch definitely has the build quality of even some luxury watches. Best of all? They can typically be found for under $500.
Check out this Steinhart Ocean 39 video by… Wait, that’s me!
When looking under the $100 mark for homage watches, Parnis is a brand that will often come up in your search.
Parnis is a chinese brand that is known for very closely homaging many popular luxury watch models, like the Parnis Daytona, Parnis Submariner, and even a Parnis GMT, largely based on their Rolex counterpart.
While they do offer appealing designs and aesthetics, their build quality and water-resistance are sometimes a mystery, as the manufacturer doesn’t always seem to be too transparent about these sorts of specifications. This is one of the downsides of dealing with such an homage brand that hasn’t yet built up a long-standing reputation.
Pagani Designs is an up and comer in affordable homage watches. They’re similar to Parnis in the sense that they create homage watches of many popular luxury watch designs like Rolex, however, they do offer a few variations. While I’ve never owned one in the flesh, and can’t speak of their quality firsthand, here’s a video comparing a $90 Pagani Designs to a Rolex Submariner.
Invicta is generally known for their comically large and garrish oversized watches you can typically find in a mall kiosk.
However, Invicta does have a few hidden gems, like their Invicta Pro Diver series, which is an homage of the Rolex Submariner, and can typically be found for under $100.
With their automatic movements, and 200 meters of water resistance, they actually offer a decent build quality and price to value ratio.
Homage watches are any type of watch that takes inspiration from another watch. Homage watches are not to be confused with replica watches that use the same exact design and logo as an original watch, and try to sell itself off as the real thing, despite being a fake.
A homage watch will always have its own logo, and not copy the watch directly, but simply take inspiration from it. Homage watches typically tend to be much more affordable, and are a great way to taste a luxury watch style on a budget.